Bad Parenting/Sinister Backstories on Kids TV Shows
Like many kids, my boys like watching televison. Unfortunately, sometimes TV shows that are entertaining to young kids look different from an adult perspective. What looks like an innocent kid-friendly situation might harbor an ignored, possibly even sinister back story.
Max and Ruby
Ruby (7 years old) and Max (3 years old) are two young bunnies. They participate in Bunny Scout activities, go shopping, play and do other things young bunnies might do. The only problem is that they seemingly live alone. There’s a photo of them with two older bunnies (presumably their parents) in one or two scenes, but otherwise no parents onscreen. Not even a mention of a parent along the lines of Ruby saying “Max, mom told you to eat your egg before you can have strawberries!”
The book’s author insists that their parents are alive, but they are never seen because she prefers to have the kids solve their own problems. This leads to some “interesting” situations, though. Ruby is baking a cake in one episode. As usual, the parents are nowhere to be found. A seven year old is using the oven unsupervised? Then, to make matters worse, as Max keeps spilling her ingredients, he is repeatedly sent to the store to get new items. By himself! Yes, 3 year old Max has to run down to the store to pick up items on a list that Ruby wrote up. (I’m guessing they run some sort of tab since Max appears to have no money.) Now, I don’t know about you, but while I’m willing to let my kids solve problems on their own, baking and running to the store are *NOT* among the things they’ll do on their own. Not when they’re 3 and 7, at least.
It isn’t like there isn’t a total lack of parental figures, though. Grandma lives just down the road from them. However, she’s not there all the time and so leaves Ruby to basically act like a Mom and Older Sister combined.
My adult level mind, tries to mesh Max and Ruby’s activities with real life and comes up with some interesting situations. My speculation is that Max and Ruby’s parents *do* exist, but that they are completely uninvolved with their kids’ lives. Perhaps both work long jobs. Perhaps their parents were helicopter parents so they are overcompensating the other way. Perhaps they are perpetually in the other room smoking “lettuce leaves.” (Hey, it is still a kids’ show.) In the real world, I think that Max and Ruby would be taken from their parents for neglect and child endangerment and would be put in the care of Grandma. Maybe they’re saving that episode for the next season.
Dora the Explorer
Dora walks all around, um, wherever she lives with her good friend Boots the Monkey. They have many adventures trying to return baby blue birds, help mommy bugga-buggas bring cookies for her babies to eat, solve riddles and even go into space. Along the way, she needs to avoid dangerous traps, keep a kleptomanic, slightly stalker-ish fox from stealing her things, and speak Spanish at every opportunity. Luckily, her parents are with her every step of the way.
Wait. Strike that last one. Her parents aren’t there. She does have one up on Max and Ruby in that her parents do exist. They’ve been seen on screen many times. They even gave her her backpack which has helped her out on many occasions. Most times, however, they aren’t there. They let her cross dangerous terrain with only a boot-clad monkey as a companion. You’d think they’d at least try to get a restraining order taken out against Swiper. But no, they send her on her way armed only with her map and whatever she has in her backpack.
Side note: I need a backpack like Dora’s backpack. It seems to have everything she could ever possibly need (even once having space suits when an alien spaceship just happens to crash land near her) and never seems to be too heavy. I could go to work with my breakfast/lunch/water bottle stashed in there as well as my laptop computer and various other items without weighing myself down. And if I ever ran into traffic and needed to go a different route? Who needs a GPS, I’d have The Map! After all, he’s the one you need to know if you’ve got a place to go.
Honestly, though, I don’t think Dora’s parents let her go completely unsupervised into dangerous situations. Instead, I think that she’s really just playing in her backyard (either with her stuffed monkey ala Calvin and Hobbes or with a real Boots the Monkey) and is just imagining all of her adventures Backyardigans-style. I’m of the opinion that Dora’s parents have given her too many drugs to combat psychological problems (real or imagined) and that has led Dora to experience certain side effects like Wide Head Syndrome, a persecution complex in the form of a sneaky fox, and trouble focusing enough to see objects directly in front of her.
These are the only two that come to mind right now. Have you seen any kids’ TV shows that you think might have a sinister back story?